Epigenics The Science Behind Your Genes and Lifestyle interaction

July 25, 2018

An understanding that both our genes and our lifestyle impact on our health is not a new concept but it is one that is gaining popularity as more people seek to live a better and longer life, and seek to make positive improvements to their health.

The science behind gene and lifestyle interaction is called Epigenetics, and whether or not you’ve heard the term, you are experiencing the effects both negative and positive, on a daily basis.

Epigenetics is ‘the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself”. Simply put this means that instead of genetic inheritance leading to a guaranteed health outcome (such as a family history of heart disease or diabetes), what we do throughout our lives has the power to turn on, or off, these genes.

There are different ways this plays out in life; 

  • Hair colour, skin tone are all expressions of genes. 
  • Why some people in a family get an ‘inherited’ disease and others don’t.
  • How our lifestyle affects our health, both positively and negatively, including sleep, nutrition, activity levels, stress and environment.
  • How we age

Epigenetics in a health and exercise framework is about not accepting what is a possibility through genetics, and instead focusing on ways to improve outcomes through lifestyle interventions. While genes cannot be altered, encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle in order to encourage, or limit how much these genes impact on your health, is the basis of many modern exercise professionals.

Ageing is a great example of the concept of epigenetics in action. The longer we live, the older we get, and along with increasing years, come a range of health issues. Age related illnesses and disease come from a combination range of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Lifestyle factors, such as an unhealthy diet, and inactivity will accelerate the aging process, and will predispose individuals to an increased range of illnesses and conditions. Those who live a more well balanced and active life are less likely to experience these diseases, or will experience them later in life, or at a lower level. While ageing is inevitable, the way we age can be modified, regardless of our genetic makeup.

The way people eat, their energy levels, and their style of exercising is able to influence health, and this is seen as a result of using the concepts of epigenetics. Planning your lifestyle choices reflect more than just what is the obvious option, and instead digging deeper.

Source Register of Exercise Professionals Media release July 2018